A former circus artist escapes from a mental hospital to rejoin his armless mother - the leader of a strange religious cult - and is forced to enact brutal murders in her name as he becomes "her arms".
A young man -- starving, nearly catatonic and barely responsive -- is confined in a sanitarium. He is taken on a field trip along with other residents to the city's red-light district. There, he encounters by chance a woman from his past, triggering a series of flashbacks. We see that he was traumatized as a child, when he and his family were circus performers, and when he witnessed a murder/suicide: his father -- an American expatriate living in Mexico under suspicious circumstances -- cuts off the arms of his beloved mother, a possessive wife and religious fanatic who led a heretical church called "Santa Sangre (Holy Blood)," the members of which worshipped a martyred girl whose arms were severed by her father following her rape, and then commit suicide. Back in the present, buttressed by shock of his remembrance, he escapes the sanitarium and, in a series of hallucinations and dream-fulfillments, believes he has rejoined his armless mother. He "becomes her arms" and the "two" ...Written by
As a tribute to Mexican horror films, Santa Sangre (1989) includes a scene with masked wrestlers and a "superwoman" named La Santa. See more »
When the elephant is dying, all the close-ups of its trunk bleeding show the trunk to be clean. All the long shots of the elephant show it's trunk covered in blood. See more »
[Fenix crouches naked atop a tree trunk in his barren asylum room]
[enters along with orderlies pushing a food cart]
[offers him a normal meal]
Eat like a human being.
[puts the tray back down and offers him a raw fish]
[jumps down and grabs the fish]
[...] See more »
[over the final freeze-frame] I stretch out my hands to thee: my soul thirsts for thee like a parched land ... Teach me the way I should go, for to thee I lift up my soul. - Psalms 143.6, 8 See more »
The US has two versions available on video: the R-rated version, which runs about 120 minutes, and the NC-17 version, which is about 123 minutes (the one released uncut in Britain and other European countries). The differences between the two are hardly noticeable except for two scenes - the first scene being the dismemberment of the mother. In the NC-17 version, there are extra cuts of blood and gore spraying on the walls, and then we also see a few extra shots of blood spurting out of the father's neck shortly after he commits suicide (we see this from behind; a startlingly un-explicit shot to be considered NC-17 material). The other scene is even more noticeable. The death of the prostitute is much more explicit in the NC-17 version: we see many shots of her being graphically stabbed in the back and chest with loads of blood literally dumping out of her wounds. Then, we briefly see the knife stab through the back of her neck and poke out the front - all in one explicit shot. Practically the entire scene is missing in the R-rated version. See more »
I remember seeing this movie in 1990 in a tiny cinema in London, on a date. As we walked from the theater and got on the tube, neither of us said a word for 20 minutes. Finally, she said, "you have a strange taste in films."
Back then, I was heavily into Luis Bunuel. This was one of the few post-Bunuel movies that embodied the essential creepiness and odd humor of the Surrealists (the other one that comes to mind is "Videodrome"). There's the obvious Freudian stuff, the obvious shock stuff, but leaving all that aside, there are indelible moments of cinematic poetry. The elephant; the son's arms; the final shot. It feels, more than 10 years later, like a repressed dream/nightmare.
I don't consider this a "horror" movie, in the sense that there are no slasher, monster, alien, demon, zombie, cannibal, haunted house, supernatural, dread disease, or giallo elements. I don't remember this movie being particularly scary or gory; just creepy. Maybe it's in a similar genre to "Eyes Without a Face," but only in the sense that both movies deal with mutilation and revenge. (Then again, I remember seeing "Un Chien Andalou" and "In the Realm of the Senses" in the horror section of a video store -- a sign of either ignorance or insight, I could never figure out.) This one truly belongs in the Foreign Films section, but not just for being non-Hollywood.
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